San Gabriel Lodge No. 89, A. F. & A. M. Historical Marker

Historical Marker text

Organized in 1851, three years after the creation of Williamson County, San Gabriel Lodge No. 89 was chartered in January 1852 with John T. Cox, a Methodist minister from South Carolina, as worshipful master. The lodge grew rapidly with the new county seat. An Eastern Star chapter was formed and met in the Masonic Lodge. San Gabriel Lodge No. 89 assisted in laying the cornerstone for the State Capitol building in Austin in 1885. The lodge has long been involved in such Williamson County matters as public education, its members serving on the board of education as well as in the roles of superintendents, teachers and patrons. One hundred and forty-eight years after its inception, San Gabriel Lodge No. 89 continues in the traditions of its founders. (1999)

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GPS Coordinates
Latitude: 30.64950 - Longitude: -97.66770
UTM 14 R - Easting: 0627708 - Northing: 3391301

Address: 800 North College street

SAN GABRIEL MASONIC LODGE #89 Narrative - -Researched and Written by:

Jackson Daugherty, Secretary San Gabriel Lodge (1994-1995)

The act to create Williamson County was approved by the Texas Legislature on March 13, 1848. Three years later the first Masonic Lodge in the county was established in the new county seat of Georgetown. [1] Dispensation for San Gabriel Lodge UD (Under Dispensation) was granted on May 18, 1851, by A. Neill, District Deputy for the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Texas. [2] On May 22, 1851, the Lodge was duly consecrated. John T. Cox, a Methodist clergyman born in South Carolina in 1803, was installed as Worshipful Master. James R. Armstrong (1812-1881) was Senior Warden. [3] Born in Kentucky, Armstrong was an attorney who settled near Jasper, Texas by 1836. A private in Capt. James Chessher's Jasper Volunteers, he fought at the Battle of San Jacinto; represented the Fourth Congress of the Republic of Texas from 1836 to 1840; fought with the Confederate army during the Civil War; and served as a member of the Constitutional Convention in 1868-69. [4] Brother E. F. Story was Junior Warden, and Brother Charles C. Cook (born 1805 in South Carolina) was elected Secretary. Also attending this meeting were C. C. Arnett and Joseph Rubarth. Born in Prussia in 1797, Rubarth held several offices in the Lodge before his death in 1867. [5] He was buried on his farm near Lake Granger about 3.5 miles west of Hare.

On January 23, 1852, San Gabriel Lodge was issued a Charter as San Gabriel Lodge #89 Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and the following officers were elected: John T. Cox, Worshipful Master; James Armstrong, Senior Warden; E. T. Story, Junior Warden; I.K. Branch, Treasurer; N. B. Johnson, Secretary, Sam Mather, SD; Joseph Rubarth, JD, and Mr. Fleming, Tiler. [2 & 3]

Beginning with this first historic meeting, the Lodge enjoyed a period of active growth.

Three petitions were received on May 22, 1851, and these petitions were initiated on June 21, 1851, when two petitions and a Demit from an Entered Apprentice Mason from Clinton Lodge #23 were received. On July 19, 1851, the first three Entered Apprentices were examined in open Lodge, and their proficiencies accepted. Six new petitions were read and assigned to committees at this meeting, and the records show increasing numbers of new members for many months. The lure of the California gold fields is reflected in the minutes of March 22, 1852, when Brother James A. Beardsley applied for and was granted a Demit, being on his way to California. [3]

In October 1851, a contract was signed to build a "Lodge Room" on the "Rock House" of the Lodge. In January 1852, the "owner of a certain stone house" located on the southwest corner of Brushy and Oak Streets (present Austin Avenue and 8th Street) gave consent to the Lodge to build a frame structure on top of the stone walls for $5.00. In 1857 the Lodge was still meeting in the same building, but by this time the lower floor was a saloon and ten-pin alley. In May 1858 the Lodge purchased property on the east side of the square for $1,000. Members voted to rent the lower floor of the building for $15. The Eastern Star was permitted to use the Lodge room. A lot and shed secured for the horses and wagons of Lodge members was eventually developed into one of Georgetown's busiest livery stables. [5]

In 1876 the Lodge moved to a room on the northwest corner of the square which they rented from David Love. Still another move took place in 1878 to a two-story frame structure at the northeast corner of the square (present Main and 7th Street), and in 1900 Belford Lumber Company was engaged to build a two-story stone building at that site. The cornerstone for this new Lodge building was laid on July 6, 1900. When the big hurricane struck Galveston in late August, damaging winds reached as far as Georgetown, and Belford purchased 2x4, 2x6, and 2x8 lumber from every lumber yard in the county to use in shoring up the partially finished Lodge building. [5]

At our one hundredth year milestone we were honored to have the Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Texas and other Grand Lodge Officers, as well as many noted guests at a Grand Banquet in celebration of this event. [5]

Our second century began with plans for a new Lodge building. By November 1981 the old Lodge building was sold, with the provision that the Lodge could have occupancy until August 1, 1982, to provide time to locate a site and erect a new Lodge building. By early 1982 the foundation of a new Lodge Hall was laid at 810 North College Avenue. The first meeting at this location was held on August 1, 1982, when Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Texas, Jimmy Wilson, Leveled the cornerstone and consecrated the new building. [1]

On February 1, 1885, San Gabriel Lodge #89, along with Austin and Hill City Lodge of Austin assisted in laying the cornerstone of the State Capitol in Austin. With the assistance of representatives of the MW Grand Lodge of Masons in Texas, Lodge members laid the corner­stone of the "Free School Building" on December 10, 1884; and San Gabriel Lodge #89 arranged for the MW Grand Lodge of Masons in Texas to lay the cornerstone of the Williamson County Courthouse on October 6, 1910. [5]

On December 13, 1912, San Gabriel Masonic Lodge #89 made the first concerted effort to obtain photographs of all the Past Masters. Again on January 11, 1982, the Lodge continued the procurement of these photographs, which now grace the walls of our dining room. [1]

At the time of our Lodge's beginning there were few schools in Williamson County.

Through­out the span of time, we as Masons are proud of our association with the education of our youth. Many past and present Masons have given freely of their time and talents to make our system of education in Georgetown a vital and dynamic institution by serving on the Boards of Education, as superintendents, teachers, and interested patrons; to uphold the public school as a place of learning, and to instill in our children the idea that the public school is truly democracy in action. The Lodge is proud that we have been able to start and maintain, from 1988 through the present school year, a scholarship fund whereby we are now able to assist worthy students from Georgetown High School to advance his or her education.

Reflecting on the one hundred and forty-six (146) years of our existence, we pay homage to those Masons who took the precepts of our gentle order and so greatly influenced our Lodge and community through their dedication to God and County. To read the yellowed pages of the minute books instills a sense of having tread on hallowed ground, and one can almost feel the presence of those dedicated and stalwart early Masons.

Thus we close this look at our past with humble pride, knowing that in a definite way, we as Masons, have influenced our country, our state, and our community by the dreams we dream, the lives we live, and the efforts we put forth for the betterment of our fellow man.

Researched and Written by:
Jackson Daugherty, Secretary San Gabriel Lodge (1994-1995)